Abraham of Beja

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ABRAHAM OF BEJA (second half of 15th century), Portuguese traveler and linguist. He was apparently also a Hebrew scholar and styled "rabbi" for that reason. In 1485 King João ii of Portugal sent João Perez of Covilhão across Africa to investigate the country of the mythical Christian king Prester John, and to discover the land route to India. Impressed by Abraham's knowledge of languages, King João sent him across the Mediterranean to join up with the expedition together with another Jew, Joseph Capatiero, who already had travel experience in the East. In due course he linked up with Perez in Egypt and continued with him as far as Ormuz in India. At that point he was left to return westward by the caravan route, via Damascus and Aleppo.


F. da Ficalho, Viagens de Pedro Covilhan (1898); H.H. Hart, Sea Road to the Indies (1952), 43–78; J. Mendes dos Remedios, Os Judeus em Portugal, 1 (1895), 248–9.

[Cecil Roth]

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Abraham of Beja

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